How Different Generations Feel About Cashless Payment Systems

Brian Johnson
3 min readMay 8, 2020

Most business owners know they have to consider customer preferences when it comes to things like product design, store hours, and their social media channels. But you may not have considered how your target demographic feels about the payment systems your business offers.

That’s because most businesses choose the payment methods they offer based on convenience. For instance, many companies are choosing cashless commerce because it reduces fraud, is more convenient, and improves overall efficiency.

And this may be a particularly good choice for your business, especially if your store or site sells a high volume of items that cost $10 or less. Particularly when you consider that 55% of transactions under $10 are still done using cash. So, in this scenario, you may not be meeting the expectations of your customers if cash is your primary option.

How Different Age Groups Feel About Cashless Payments

One way you can determine what payment methods you should be offering is by looking at the primary age groups you serve. Because different generations have very different preferences when it comes to cashless payments. Here is an overview of each generation as well as the primary payment preferences of each.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are the generation born from 1946–1964. And there are currently 75 million of them living in the U.S. When it comes to payment preferences, most Baby Boomers prefer credit cards. The average Baby Boomer has four credit cards with a median credit limit of $11,000.

52% of Baby Boomers prefer cash back credit cards with store credit cards coming in at a close second. And Baby Boomers are 39% more likely to be concerned about the APR on their card than younger generations.

Generation X

Generation X was born between 1965–1979. Like Baby Boomers, Gen X prefers credit cards over all other forms of payment. They carry an average of four credit cards with a median balance of $11,250. 57% of Gen Xers say they took out a credit card so they’ll have a buffer in case of emergencies.

They are also more likely to carry a balance than other generations. Over 67% of Gen Xers have credit card debt. For that reason, more than 20% of Gen X consumers prefer balance transfer cards.


Millennials are typically defined as the generation born between 1980–1995. Most millennials prefer mobile wallets and over 30% prefer using PayPal. More than 70% say they do carry a credit card so they can build credit.

Millennials can often be split into two defining groups: younger millennials and older millennials. Younger millennials are between the ages of 23–30. 41% of younger millennials prefer credit cards to debit cards.

Older millennials fall between the ages of 31–38. They are almost the exact opposite and 40% prefer debit cards to credit cards.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you some insights into how your primary demographics prefer to pay. Regardless of the demographics you serve, there is a way for you to meet your customer’s payment expectations. The most important thing you can do is focus on personalizing the payment experience for your customers.

Additionally, coupling cashless payment options with loyalty and rewards, you will have a greater chance of appealing to all the generational expectations of your customers and guests. Mobile wallets tied to credit/debit cards allow greater flexibility for all of your customers and can generate a high return through ease of use and repeat business.



Brian Johnson

Technology Innovation Strategist & Change Manager: Influencing and helping others to reach their full potential through intentional improvement.